Multi-academy trusts Contents

2The characteristics of high-performing multi-academy trusts

13.Throughout the inquiry we asked witnesses what characteristics the most successful MATs possess. Common themes emerged, including: strong leadership, clear governance frameworks, continuous professional development for teachers and strong financial management.

14.In October Sir Michael Wilshaw released an Ofsted commentary on high performing MATs and what they have in common.13 Ofsted looked at seven high-performing MATs which “have a track record of taking on a number of previously underperforming schools and leading them on a journey to good or even outstanding”.14 The commentary concluded that strong trusts tended to share a set of common characteristics, including:

15.During our session with three RSCs we asked their opinion on these seven points and whether they would add anything. Rebecca Clark, RSC for the South West, commented:

The only thing that I would add is that I think the very best MATs have an alignment of values and a vision that enables schools to work together as one [ … ] Great MATs give an opportunity for us to reduce within-school variation at a different scale so that all schools are performing to the level of the very best by learning from the very best. To do that, you have to have real clarity around what your economic model is, what your target operating model is and what your education model is.15

16.In his previous role as RSC for the South West, Sir David Carter produced his own “characteristics of successful multi-academy trusts”.16 His nine steps included:

17.In our final evidence session, we asked Lord Nash for his thoughts on what distinguishes the best performing trusts from others. He responded:

Successful multi-academy trusts are run by tough people who put children first. They have a sense of pace and urgency. They have strong governance and financial control. They are well organised, with good geographic focus, with a good balance between strong and weak schools, clear reporting lines and good performance management. Good financial control and high-quality finance people to ensure that much more money is available in the classroom. They have well developed CPD programmes, good leadership development structures; they identify their rising stars and develop their careers. They have very good staff retention. They have standardised procedures, providing supportive materials to help teachers’ workload and support consistent teaching. They engage in wider system discussions to share good practice. They have high expectations. They believe in stretching all pupils. They understand education is not just about exams; it is about developing children’s resilience and their mental toughness. They have good connections with the world of work. They have behaviour management strategies that are clear, effective, consistently applied and easily understood by staff and pupils, and they have an absolutely clear central vision and ethos.17

Our view

18.After hearing evidence from a wide range of witnesses on what characteristics the highest performing MATs have, we have formed our own view. Subsequent chapters will provide more detail on each point. We believe the most successful MATs share the following characteristics:


13 Ofsted, ‘HMCI’s monthly commentary’, accessed 19 December 2016

14HMCI’s monthly commentary’, accessed 19 December 2016

15 Q374

16 DfE, ‘Characteristics of successful multi-academy trusts, accessed 19 December 2016

17 Q422




27 February 2017